I didn't take my husband's last name when we got married

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

It made things easier when we got divorced.

I was lukewarm about taking my husband's last name when we got married. Growing up, I had always assumed I would change my last name to match my spouse. As I grew older, I began to question that practice. I wasn't overly passionate about keeping my maiden name. It just seemed like a lot of work.

As I planned my wedding, I was undecided. On the one hand, I knew everyone expected me to change my name. On the other hand, I didn't know where to begin. Never mind my feelings, just the logistics were enough to throw me off.

After the wedding, I still wasn't convinced. Changing my name on my driver's license and my social security card seemed to be the bare minimum or at least the jumping-off point. I figured I'd get around to it when I got around to it, so to speak.

Before I could get around to it, I realized getting married was a huge mistake. My new husband was as mean as a rattlesnake, and I couldn't see any valid reason I would want to change my name to his when he was causing me so much anguish.

That was it. I officially decided to keep my name just as it was, and it wasn't so much about keeping my own name as it was about rejecting his.

The first Christmas we spent as spouses, my mother-in-law gave me a set of printed return address labels with my "married name" on them. The name looked foreign and ugly. I thanked her for her thoughtful gift, but I never used the labels.

I felt slightly embarrassed when another family member loudly advised her I did not use her son's last name. Perhaps I should have told her myself, but I didn't think I needed to consult anyone about my decision. I didn't even consult my husband. After all, he didn't consult me about anything.

Not taking my husband's last name when we got married made things a lot easier when we got divorced. I didn't need to restore my name legally because I'd never changed it.

I've known many women who have kept their ex-husband's names after their divorce for the same reason I initially decided not to take my husband's name. Changing it was just too much work.

People sometimes point out that keeping one's maiden name means using another man's name anyhow, substituting the name of a woman's father instead of her spouse, However, as I've noted, it was never about keeping my own name but eschewing that of a man who couldn't even wait for our honeymoon to be over before making my life miserable.

In the end, refusing to take my husband's last name was the right choice for me. A better choice would have been never to marry him at all.

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